The Senate, on Tuesday at plenary, passed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) 2020 budget of N238.15 billion amid dissenting views by some senators.
The passing of the budget followed the presentation of a report on the budget by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff for consideration.
Some of the senators at plenary had raised concerns that budget report presented by the Senate Committee was not detailed.
The senators had noted that the report presented by the Committee Chairman, Sen. Francis Alimikhena was not tidy, noting that some of the figures were not adding up.
They also noted that the NCS like others Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have for the past six years not submitted their audited reports.
The senators, who kicked against the report, argued that Customs cannot be getting seven per cent from revenue collected, two per cent from all Value Added Tax (VAT), allocation from Federation Account and other revenues and still be receiving allocation from the Federation Account.
In his contribution on the report, Sen. James Manager said: “This report is too scanty for us to look at.
”The Committee should have taken a proper look at the report before submitting it to us.
“We need to look at the federation account properly.”
Sen.Gabriel Suswam said before the Customs budget could be passed, proper explanation should be made, so that the Senate would understand why some figures were not adding up.
Sen. Solomon Olamilekan had earlier observed that the seven per cent allocated to Customs from revenue generated was enough to defray its expenditure.
He, however, said NCS was still drawing funds from the Federation Account despite the allocation of seven per cent.
Also, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide said: “The fact that Customs is collecting seven per cent does not mean that its budget should not be audited.”
Sen. Ibn Na’allah said: “This Senate has a duty to bring all agencies into conformity with the vision of federal government.
” We must bring our institutions to conform with what will make the country proud.
“We can’t pass this kind of budget.”
But Sen.Adamu Alerio in his contribution however urged the Senate to passed the budget given the steering performance of NCS in revenue generation in 2019 and improved welfare of its personnel.
Earlier, Sen. Alimikhena while presenting the committee’s report explained that the proposal was based on Federal Government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
He said a total expenditure of N238.15 billion was been proposed for the 2020.
Highlights of the budget proposal, according to him includes, the establishment of the E-Customs Project through massive deployment of information communication technology to eliminate personal interface in customs operations.
“The implementation of the Nigeria Customs Service Salary Structure for 15,892 officers and men of the Service; the recruitment of three thousand two hundred (3,200) officers and men and their training among others.
In his remarks after the passage of the budget, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said: “We expect MDAs to present their audited accounts before the end of the year especially towards the end of December or at least the first quarter of the year.
“If any agency refuses or fails without any congent reason, we have reason to take a drastic action when it comes to appropriation because not to account for what you have been given in the previous year, that is to say you are not prepared to take a new budget.
“So I’m advising the MDAs, especially those that are not up to date with their audited accounts to do so.
“We could decide as a National Assembly to take measures against agencies of government that are not up to date with their audited accounts.”